Is Durham Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On January 14, 2022
Durham, United States
Safety Index:
* Based on Research & Crime Data
User Sentiment:
* Rated 73 / 100 based on 3 user reviews.

Durham is part of North Carolina’s research triangle known for its technology companies.

It is home to Duke University.

It is a cultural area with many museums and a strong arts community.

With almost 300,000, it is the fourth-largest city in the state, and next door is the state capital of Raleigh, the second most populous at almost 500,000.

Durham is about 130 miles from both the Appalachian mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.

It is also a medical center with 300 health-related companies.

Durham also has many distinct neighborhoods, which can give it a small-town feel despite its size.

Durham had its beginnings in the 1850s and has many historical buildings to go along with its modern amenities.

It has a history of being the center of the tobacco and textiles industries as well.

It is also home to Duke Forest, a 7,000-acre research forest.

Warnings & Dangers in Durham

Overall Risk


Durham is a very upscale city centered around technology and education. It has a low poverty level and high employment, which tends to cut down the level of crime. There are bad areas like there are in any city, but for the most part, Durham is a safe city.

Transport & Taxis Risk


Taxis are available from the airport and around town and are very safe. The city bus system is very good and fares are free for most stops. The bus system is very safe as well. Amtrak also has a station in Durham.

Pickpockets Risk


There are very few incidents of pickpockets in Durham. Crime is not as popular as it used to be because cards are harder to use, and people are carrying less cash. Still, it is a good idea to keep your wallet or purse secure and not where it can be easily reached.

Natural Disasters Risk


Durham is on a plateau, too far from the ocean for hurricanes, and too far from the mountains for earthquakes. Snow can hit at times, and ice storms can become dangerous.

Mugging Risk


The tourist areas, as well as the main business areas, are very safe from this sort of crime. There are some bad areas where your risk will go up, but there is no reason to go to those areas if you are visiting the city.

Terrorism Risk


Crowded areas around universities and technology centers could be a good target for terrorists, but so far they have not hit this area. There is concern about domestic terrorism, but so far that has not happened either.

Scams Risk


There might be a person trying to con you into a private tour, but that is about as bad as it will get. The rare person on the street might try to scam you in some way, but common sense will protect you from harm there. Most scammers work online trying to steal people's identities.

Women Travelers Risk


As a university town, Durham has a lot of women travelers, and a lot of them travel alone. There are not a lot of crimes against women. There seems to be no difference in the level of danger for women and men.

Tap Water Risk


Water is provided by the city and meets all federal and state standards for cleanliness. There have been no issues reported with the water from this area.

Safest Places to Visit in Durham

There are more than 30 miles of greenways and trails in the city, and all are safe.

The American Tobacco Trail is along an abandoned rail line through the city.

Duke University always has a lot going on, and interesting things to see and do.

Downtown Durham is home to the historic tobacco factory area with many historical buildings and tours available.

It is a trendy area with a lot of shops, bars, and restaurants.

Duke Forest is a 7,000-acre research forest with fields, trails, and much to explore.

It is home to hundreds of lemurs and one of the top sanctuaries for this type of animal in the world.

The Sarah P. Duke Garden is a 55-acre area of flowers, terraces, and arboretums.

There are five miles of paths and trails through the gardens.

There are many more museums and sights to see.

The Old West Durham area is an older part of town with a lot of restaurants and thriving nightlife.

East Durham is the safest part of town, with a crime rate of 16 per 1,000, and the national average is around 40.

Places to Avoid in Durham

Most of Durham is safe but some bad areas should be avoided.

The neighborhoods east of downtown have a lot of criminal and drug activity and should be avoided.

These areas should be avoided at night, and there is little reason to go there in the daytime either.

Just south of downtown, around Alston Ave., is another area where there is some crime at times.

The northern-most area of town has lower-income housing, and there is some poverty, but the crime rate is not out of the ordinary.

The crime rate is 36 per 1,000 people, and the national average is about 40.

Areas around Roxboro and Fayetteville roads also have a reputation for being problem areas.

Some very nice areas in Durham have bad neighborhoods just a few blocks away, so some residential areas can be questionable.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Durham

  1. Study the area. There are a lot of great places to explore in Durham, and they are almost always safe. There are also some bad areas. Familiarize yourself with the good areas and stay in those areas as much as possible. Plan your trip accordingly.
  2. Lock your car and room. Most criminals are looking for an easy opportunity to steal, and they will normally pass up a locked car. They may try the door to see if it is locked though, so it is better to make sure you have it locked just in case. Most areas are safe, and a locked door helps keep it that way.
  3. Don’t be too obvious. Avoid looking like a tourist as much as possible. Don’t flash your cameras and electronics where they draw attention. Try to blend in and look like a local person when outside. Looking too much like a tourist will make you a target if there are any criminals around.
  4. Watch for cyclists. There are a lot of bike paths, and many streets have a bike lane on the right side. Cyclists have the right of way in some cases, and you should always try to stay three feet away while driving a car. Cyclists are very quiet, so you won’t hear them. Don’t assume they see you.
  5. Aware of where you are. While many safe areas are very safe, in some cases a bad area of town may be only a couple of blocks away. Be mindful of where you are when you are exploring. Don’t go too far off the beaten path to avoid accidentally getting into a bad area of town.
  6. Stay hydrated. The summers can get very hot and you can get dehydrated quickly. Always take some water with you, and drink water often. Avoid too much caffeine or alcohol as those will contribute to your dehydration.
  7. Use sunscreen. Use some sunscreen if you are going to be outside for a long period in the summer. Sunburns are possible if you stay out too long, and that is painful as well as unhealthy for your skin. A little prevention will keep you comfortable.
  8. Check the weather. Listen to weather forecasts each day and plan your visit accordingly. The weather can change fast in this area, but it does not often change in just a few minutes. Keep an eye out for storms that may be headed your way.
  9. Use your GPS. Avoid carrying around paper maps, which just makes it more obvious that you are a tourist. Use your phone’s GPS for directions, which is more accurate than a paper map anyway.
  10. Share the plan. Have at least a loose idea of where you are going and when you will be at various places. Share this information with someone such as a family member or even the hotel staff. Let people know when you expect to be back, so they will know there might be a problem if you are very late.

So... How Safe Is Durham Really?

For the most part, Durham is a very safe city.

It has been rated among the safest in the state several times.

There are some bad areas, of course, and those should be avoided.

The tourist areas, as well as parks and Duke University, are very safe.

Your chances of being a crime victim are one in 13 in the western areas of the city, but one in 45 in the southern part of the city.

Durham has many distinct neighborhoods, and some are safer than others.

Locals can tell you which neighborhoods to avoid.

There are no tourist attractions in those bad areas anyway.

Assault is the most common violent crime in Durham, with robbery coming in second.

There are very few rapes and murders reported in the city.

There is more property crime than violent crime, according to police statistics.

General petty theft is the most common crime, and this is usually the result of unlocked cars or property being left unattended.

Car theft is a bit of an issue in parts of the city.

The safe areas are very safe, and the bad areas can be quite bad, according to police statistics.

In 2020, burglaries and robberies were down by about 15 percent, but assault cases rose by 15 percent.

Motor Vehicle theft rose by 40 percent, but there were only 14 in 2020, and eight the previous year.

Overall, violent crime decreased by 21 percent in 2021, and property crime went down by three percent.

The bottom line is, if you stay in the areas that are known to be safe, and avoid bad areas, especially at night, there is very little danger that you will be a crime victim.

How Does Durham Compare?

CitySafety Index
St. Louis58
Los Angeles56
New Orleans57
Sofia (Bulgaria)73
Siem Reap (Cambodia)63
Phnom Penh (Cambodia)61
Niagara Falls (Canada)87
Calgary (Canada)82
Buenos Aires (Argentina)60

Useful Information



You will need a visa to enter the United States and you will need to get that before you arrive. Once in Durham, you will not need it, but keep it safe while you are there.



The dollar is the mode of business, and that is the only currency businesses use here. You may use a credit card from anywhere. You may do currency exchange at the airport or any bank.



Summer can be hot and humid. Wear light clothing, but protect yourself from the sun. In spring there are a lot of storms that come up, and there is the occasional tornado. There can be snow in winter, but not often.



There is a large international airport that serves the Raleigh-Durham area. Buses and taxi services are available for hotels in the Durham area. The airport is just outside of town, between Durham and Raleigh.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is there for you when things go wrong while traveling. It is not very expensive and can save you a lot of trouble if you have it when you need it. Travel insurance gives you some peace of mind while traveling.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Durham Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 4° C
Feb 5° C
Mar 10° C
Apr 15° C
May 19° C
Jun 24° C
Jul 26° C
Aug 25° C
Sep 22° C
Oct 15° C
Nov 10° C
Dec 6° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

North Carolina - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Chapel Hill81
Elizabeth City79
High Point62
Hope Mills53
Kill Devil Hills77
Kitty Hawk79
Morehead City78
New Bern77
Rocky Mount52

Where to Next?

3 Reviews on Durham

  1. Not as safe as listed

    As a NC resident for the last 3.5 years one city keeps being in the local news for frequent murders. So I am not sure how the overall danger rating is low. I won’t visit this city without my concealed permit and my 45 caliber glock. But you can drink the coolaid if you like. Don’t say you weren’t warned by a local instead of a website

    1. Considering relocating to NC. Is there an area you’d recommend?

  2. Love it here in Durham

    So many people moved here in recent years, and I can see why, it’s a much better city to live in than in CA or NY. prices, education, weather, and culture, they beat CA and NY in all of those in my opinion.

Durham Rated 3.67 / 5 based on 3 user reviews.

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